Answers served with a pervading sense of seriousness. Except for that thing about the horse.
Kate Kearney searched: What are three things that surprised you about your writing?
I’ve been writing for a long time, and been comfortable in it in the way someone is comfortable walking. It feels natural, and the only time the roll and bump of it feels anything but thoughtless is when I’ve gone a very long time without it (or when I try to do something that is actually well beyond my ability, but we won’t talk about that for now).
So, when I get surprised, I get bowled over.
Like when I was fourteen, and one of my best friends handed a book I’d written to his mother, and she out-of-the-blue informed me that she’d liked it, and that it reminded her of Bruce Coville (a real published author in my library!), not that it was “a nice try”.
Like when I realized that somewhere I had grown up and stopped writing about things that I wished could exist, and started poking things that actually scared me with fictional sticks in that legendary attempt to understand them.
Like when I lost my writing time to an all-consuming job that I was proud to hold down, and realized that I actually needed that time. Not because I liked it, but because I operated better with it.
Kate Kearney searched: What are three things you do well as a writer?
Well, if you’re going to ask me to be a braggart, I won’t disappoint.
But I will also apologize profusely and spend a long time pondering over whether my own evaluation of my merits can be credited, or if you’ll all call me liar in a moment. You know, all the normal stuff.
1) I write dialogue well. I make people sound like people, and talking sound like talking. [gives herself a high five]
2) I move characters smoothly, less like puppets on strings and more like billard balls on the table. I know how to give each one their own individual weight and force. I know how to make them bounce, strike, and roll off each other, and look like it’s just physics after a few choice hits from the authorial cue stick.
3) I can both fall in love and totally loathe my own work. I gave myself permission both to pat myself on the back and to throw things in the trash a long time ago, and it was the single greatest writing decision that I have ever made. I am not in charge of defending each of my precious thought beauties against the cold and cruel world. I am not charge of protecting the world from the chance that all my birthings might actually be thought mulitations. I am responsible, only, for being honest with myself and knowing that I am capable of creating both.
Kate Kearney searched: What are three things you should have learned by now?
1) A much larger vocabulary, with an elegance and excellence of meaning at my fingertips.
2) How to smooth a transition after it’s been written out as cleanly as a saw tooth.
3) How to find my own typos. And not cringe at them.
I’ve liked the idea of playing with two opposing sides of humanity, one where they have no qualms in improving the race with extreme genetic modification, and one where they refuse any modification at all.
I’ve also been captured (and held hostage) to the idea of an interstellar flight school from which no one is actually expected to graduate. Attendees leave, not with diplomas, but with certification for how many levels they passed. Real graduates are as rare as solar powered space dragons. And good enough to fly circles around a solar powered space dragon.
One day, when I get other projects finished, I probably will write a space opera.
Kate Kearney searched: What if I stole your spaceship?
That would probably make a good plot for a space opera. I would steal it back. It would be a haphazard, rambling, walloping, romp of an adventure, and would require a tube of tennis balls, tin thread, a horse, a pocket-sized bazooka, and that guy’s mechanical arm.
Kate Kearney searched: What would you name your horse?
… You ask about the horse, not the guy’s mechanical arm?
I like you.
Her name is Bradley. (Don’t make fun of her. She kicks.)
Kate Kearney searched: Do you have a style or genre that appeals to you more as a reader than as a writer?
Historical Fiction. I like reading most of it, but I have less interest in writing it than I do in trying to get tickets to Pluto.
Do them well.
And by well, I mean, make me believe in the Ski Slope Ending. Go ahead and leave me in mid-air, but with force, trajectory, and a notion that I just might know where I’m landing. Leave me with the feel of falling that might be flying.
Do. Them. Well.
Kate Kearney searched: Do you ever use character questionnaires?
I have, though not often. I like filling out forms, so occasionally I will use the Name, Age, Weight style of questionnaire, but my favorites have all looked more like:
List ten of your characters. Number them from one to ten.
Would number one or number seven make a better professor? What subjects would they teach?
Number three and number four get into a fight. Who wins and how long does it take?
Number six and number ten made a bet. How much is one of them about to lose?
Whenever I find one like that, I spend several days compulsively puzzling them out.
Kate Kearney searched: Any sites about writing that you would recommend?
The only writing sites I have consistently used are online dictionaries, online thesauruses and online forums with other writers.
I highly advise the small forum experience, if you can find it. As a new writer it was the best place I found to get used to writing regularly, and to listening to reader’s reactions to my writing.
Have a question for Gwendoogle? Leave it in comments below, and I’ll be back next week to answer it.
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